THE PALAEOGRAPHICAL ALBUM OF PIERRE-CAMILLE LE MOINE, a compilation of fragments from medieval codices on vellum and paper, some decorated and illuminated, in French and Latin [France, Lorraine, 10th to 18th centuries]
A veritable treasure-trove of manuscript fragments from Toul Cathedral, ranging in date from the 10th to the 16th century and in subject matter from grammar, poetry, natural philosophy and rhetoric to arithmetic, astronomy, geography, music, theology, law and medicine: all carefully compiled and described by the well-meaning 18th-century archivist at Toul, Pierre-Camille Le Moine, in the hope of promoting the arts and sciences of his own region of Lorraine.
246 x 197mm. ii + 49 + ii paper leaves, the first part paginated 1-38 (followed here); the second, unpaginated and unfoliated, containing fragments of leaves from medieval and renaissance codices from the 10th to the 16th centuries, including 6 fragments from printed books, numbered 1-55 by Le Moine (numbering followed here, but sometimes the number is applied to more than one fragment), accompanied by his transcripts and notes (marginal repairs to the title page, occasional gutters repaired, occasional staining, offsetting and show-through, no 36 loose, nos 56-67 are missing, all from the section on painting and sculpture). Green morocco (faded and yellowed).
(1) Pierre-Camille Le Moine (1723-1800): his autograph essay ‘Essai sur l’état des sciences et des arts en Lorraine depuis le premier duc héréditaire jusqu’au règne de Charles III, prouvé par les monuments’ (pp.1-38), followed by an appendix with cuttings from medieval and renaissance manuscripts accompanied by Le Moine’s transcripts and commentaries of these texts, signed ‘Le Moine / archiviste de L’Eglise / de Toul’ on p.38 and dated ‘Septembre 1761’ on the title-page. Le Moine was archivist for the Cathedral of Toul from 1756/7 until 1764 and subsequently archivist for the cathedral at Lyon and for the church of Saint Martin at Tours. He was the author of the first printed French monograph entirely devoted to archives and archival management and description, the Diplomatique-pratique ou Traité de l’arrangement des archives et trésors des chartes (1765), an influential palaeographical and archival handbook which advocated the classification of documents by topics rather than in chronological order.
(2) M. Marchant, ‘avocat à Saint-Mihiel’. According to François-Jean Baptiste Noël (see below), the album was offered to him in the 1830s by Marchant. Presumably he declined to buy it on that occasion, since it passed into the collection of:
(3) Louis-Philippe-Joseph Girod de Vienney, baron de Trémont (1779-1852), high government official under Napoleon, philanthropist and collector of autograph manuscripts: no 1253 in his Catalogue de la belle collection de lettres autographes de feu m. le baron de Trémont, Chez Laverdet, 1852.
(4) François-Jean Baptiste Noël (1727-1793), delegate of the French department Vosges at the ‘Convention nationale’, decapitated by guillotine on 8 December 1793 in Paris: no 6205 in his Catalogue raisonné des Collections Lorraines de M. Noël, Nancy, 1855. Noël was unable to believe that a man of Le Moine’s reputation could possibly have been responsible for what he regarded as pure vandalism (‘un vol manifeste’): in his catalogue entry, while extolling the quality of the fragments contained within the album, he refuses to accept Le Moine’s responsibility: ‘Nous protestons contre cette attribution calomnieuse’. The culprit is ‘un quidam’, a ‘vandale’, a ‘scélérat’, who certainly had access to the archives at Toul cathedral, but could not have been Le Moine himself, an accusation which was ‘tout-à-fait indigne de la reputation bien acquise de ce savant’.
(5) Bruce Ferrini, sold in 1989 to:
(6) Schøyen Collection, MS 1275.
‘Essai sur l’état des sciences et des arts en Lorraine depuis le premier duc héréditaire jusqu’au règne de Charles III, prouvé par les monuments’, pp.1-38.
‘Chapitres des preuves de la Dissertation’, with fragments arranged by subject: grammar, poetry, natural philosophy, rhetoric, arithmetic, astronomy, geography, topography, planimetry, music, theology, canon and civil law, medicine. For a more complete description of each fragment please contact the department.
The present lot is a veritable treasure-trove of material for the palaeographer and a valuable survival for the history of palaeography: it is at once a reference tool, a teaching aid, a catalogue of the myriad types of text that were circulating around Europe from the early Middle Ages to the late Renaissance, and an unfortunate example of 18th-century book-breaking (however well-meaning: Le Moine insisted he only used manuscripts that were already fragmentary).
The earliest fragments included date from the 10th century: these are two cuttings from choirbooks (nos 39a and 39b). But each section has its delights and highlights: in poetry we see a 13th-century extract from Le Roman de Troie (no 10) and Les Chétifs, a poem about the First Crusade (no 11, also 13th century). 12th-century excerpts from Bede abound in the chapter on natural philosophy. Among the astronomical fragments we find a table for finding the dates of Easter (no 23), alongside a series of seven inscribed roundels concerning respectively the lengths of spring, summer, the winter solstice, the equinox, the summer solstice, autumn and winter (no 24), both fragments dating from the early 11th century. Within the sections on planimetry and topography we see two exceptional coloured maps representing the same view of the Moselle River, but produced one hundred years apart (nos 38a and 38b). Among the musical fragments we see a c.1400 exemplar of the hymn to St John the Baptist (no 43c), made famous in the 11th century when Guido of Arezzo named the notes of the musical scale after the opening syllables of each line: ‘Ut [queant laxis] – Re[sonare fibris] – Mi[ra gestorum] – Fa[muli tuorum] – Sol[ue polluti] – La[bii reatum] – S[ancte Iohannes]. In the legal sections we find a 12th-century text on spiritual fornication as the basis of dismissing a spouse, but also more pedestrian texts concerning what to do if one's neighbour's trees overhang one's house (no 50, from the 14th century).
M.L. Colker, 'A palaeographical album of Pierre-Camille Le Moine', Scriptorium 47-1, (1993), pp.56-60.
M. Friedrich, ‘Being an Archivist in Provincial Enlightened France: The Case of Pierre Camille Le Moine (1723–1800)’, European History Quarterly, 46, 2016, pp.568-589.